When I was a kid I had so many big dreams.
If you are like the rest of us in 2020 you probably are in the same boat of “dreams schmeams!” and realizing that sometimes life just takes the choices out of the dream and you have to just roll with the punches. And by punches, I mean punched and knocked out only to get up, find your bearings, and get knocked out by another punch. Pretty much 2020.
But life hasn’t always been that way.
I love the game of random questions. You have the opportunity to learn so much about people. And man do I love to learn more about people. Kinda side track, but I have learned that one of the best ways to learn about people is through conflict. Conflict is just an opportunity for greater intimacy. I say that mostly because I had a day full of interpersonal conflict, one that also led me to know more intimately the people I was in conflict – the way they tick, the way their brains work, the things that trigger or set them off. Its riveting really when you don’t see conflict as threatening.
But back to the game of random questions. You probably know the ones I’m talking about. It may start off with something lowkey like whats your favorite food (or my favorite way to ask- what would be your death row last meal, morbid I know). Or if you were an animal which animal would you be and why. Nothing is more random than that to me, honestly. Eventually it devolves (or evolves depending on how you view deep conversation and vulnerability) into questions like: If you only had 30 days to live what would you do, what was one thing you always wanted to be when you were a kid, or if you had unlimited resources what would your life look like.
Questions like that, whether you like it or not, touch on our DNA. They pull out the parts of us that years like 2020 have hidden out of necessity. When life has become a grind that you are trying to survive, the last thing you are thinking of is “what do I wanna be when I grow up”.
I’m realizing that even at my golden age of 30 years old, I don’t think “what I wanna be when I grow up” is ever going to be fully figured out.
One of the first things I remember wanting to be when I grow up as a kid was a firefighter. Funny, because as a kid in the 90s, I didn’t even know what feminism was quite yet, but apparently it was just ingrained in me. The second thing I wanted to be was a policeman lol. So apparently I don’t cave easily. At some point in time I had a short lived ballerina dream. I think my grandma showed me the Nutcracker and I had little sister envy over my much more graceful and blond sister who was taking ballet at the time…. She’s now covered head to toe in tattoes and her hair is rarely blond and I think her days of ballet are decades behind her. In the best ways.
One thing that I remember from some of my earliest days though is how much I loved to write. Now my mother forced me to learn to read at age 4. Eventually she realized it wasn’t going well and I got a break till I was 5. But the moment that I learned to write was a different story. The magic of finding words to tell a story, to persuade, to convince, to move someone, to portray the magic that lived inside my imagination.
I always wished that I could play a musical instrument or that I could paint because in my mind it would be the thing that allowed me to capture the very emotions that lived in my soul in such a way that awed, inspired and enraptured those who heard and saw. It took me a long time to realize that writing was my art.
The first story I had published was a silly short story about a turtle who lost his shell. Poor forgetful turtle, it was on your back this whole time. SMH. I was 7. It was a stupid kiddy magazine but it still was so special. But from that moment on writing was my way to capture the magic.
Its funny because I think so many of us don’t even recognize the magic that is in us. And if you don’t recognize the magic, how will you ever learn to capture it? And how will you ever know that captured magic is most magical when shared with the world?
Bear with me, its not just the end of the year sentimentality, I swear.
Psalm 139:14 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
That’s been a tough one for me to wrap my brain around over the years. Insecurity and comparison certainly play a part. But I also think that for all the magic inside each and every one of us, there is a very real person who wants to tear us down, distract us, and keep us from living out fully the purpose and fullness that is so ingrained in our DNA. Maybe you are reading this and you have some different faith beliefs than I do in that area and I totally understand. Nevertheless, if you have lived a life free of that struggle to step into who you are meant to be, then I envy you.
Even as I turned 30 this year, that was something that I wrestled with. Albeit, wrestled a lot less than previous years.
Another random tangent, I honestly feel like 30s is the decade I’m so excited about because I feel most at home in my heart, my body, my future, my present. Never would’ve guessed that just looking at mainstream movies and TV!
But back to big dreams. Even as a little kid, I had a few of those dreams that were astronomically unreal and yet impossible to shake. One of those for me was to become a writer. Or probably more accurately, I think I always wanted to be a storyteller.
Have you ever told a story and watched as people’s faces changed with anticipation as they wait for the next part of the tale? That’s what I live for. It doesn’t just bleed into my writing though. If I have the chance to be in the same room as you and captivate you with a funny story from my day- a coworker mishap, a crazy customer, a bizarre dating app mishap- I PROMISE, I will.
But I also am the same way with my faith. I believe in the power of storytelling, and me as the preacher that I am at heart, share my story and ultimately the story of my Jesus with the hopes of captivating attention and drawing in through the magic. You can ask my friends. I do use a lot of storytelling and analogies literally every day. The little storytelling preacher is not a new one either. At a very young age, I was stacking boxes in our living room to preach to my younger siblings, ya know, the crazy heathens that they were at 3 and 1 years of age. I’m KIDDING. Calm down.
But that’s the magic, the magic of me loving to write and loving to tell stories is not at all with the desire to shame or compare or any of that. I have found awe and wonder and I want to use the things that are in my DNA to captivate others with the very things that have enraptured me.
But enough about me. Maybe in reading this, you’ve thought to yourself of the fantastical childhood dreams you’ve forsook. Or maybe you are reminded of the secret places in your soul that are the things that make you most come alive. Things you’ve forgotten, buried, or withdrawn from.
In a year like 2020, or maybe you’ve had a life like 2020, it can be so hard to recall in a visceral way the things that make you come alive. The dreams you dared to dream before the world said “don’t you dare”. But even if just for today, take a second. Let the nostalgia take you there. You have your own magic. Mine is storytelling. But what is yours? Don’t let life beat it out of you, discourage it out of you, shame it out of you. This year is not over. This life is not over.